The Team Behind the Scenes: R&D

When participants interact with an RCI product, like Sky Trail®, they don’t often consider the work that went into creating the many interactive elements or even the improvements that help keep them secure, such as the safety entrance. It is precisely because many people may not be aware that we want to better familiarize you with our tight-knit R&D team consisting of R&D Manager, Sean Horihan, R&D Mechanical Engineer, Kevin DeKryger, R&D Electrical Engineer, Scott Battiata and R&D Automation Engineer, Shawn Hattey.

To give you all a glimpse into what their department entails, we asked Sean and Kevin a few quick questions and here’s what they had to say. Enjoy!

SH: SEAN Horihan  KD: Kevin DeKryger SB: Scott Battiata SHA: Shawn Hattey

How long have you been with RCI?

SH: 8 years

KD: I started on 10/21 of last year so I am currently in my third month with RCI!

SB: Since the beginning of January 2019.

SHA: I started at RCI on January 2nd, 2020.

What does a typical day for you look like?

SH: We have a list of projects that we work on according to priority. Projects related to safety are always top priority. Many projects in R&D are new products that will add more fun for the end user and create more revenue for our customers. We split our time between designing on computers and building and testing prototypes in our shop.

KD: Like Sean said, we have a list of projects that we’ve been working on. I usually come in and determine what project can and should currently be worked on and I discuss with Sean where projects should be headed. Lately, I’ve been working on slight improvements to existing elements and that has consisted of looking through the element both in ‘Inventor’ and at the IAAPA and Allegan Event courses, as well as brainstorming ideas with Sean.

What do you love most about your job?

SH: I love several things about this job: creative design, problem solving, hands on work and working with great people.

KD: I love being able to use problem solving to create such a fun product. Every time I’ve gone up on a course, I’ve enjoyed myself while continuously looking for ways I could improve the experience.

SB: I love getting new systems working correctly and experiencing a sense of satisfaction when a project is completed.

SHA: The people have been great and I enjoy the excitement everyone has about the products made at RCI.

Given your background, why did you choose RCI?

SH: It was an opportunity to see a product through from beginning to end. The products created at RCI are fun to use, so they’re also fun to create.

KD: RCI seemed like a great company in which I would be able to take part in the creation and improvement of a product that I genuinely get excited about. In the past 2 and a half months this has proven to be true and I have also learned how great it is to work in a company where there are so many great people that I can personally talk to.

SB: I genuinely liked the product and it seemed like the kind of work environment that I wanted to be a part of.

SHA: I have spent 25 years in Industrial Automation building machines from prototyping to building large assembly lines. I truly enjoy creating new things and RCI feels like the perfect fit to be on a team that wants to do that very thing.

When you say what you do, what do people generally think?

SH: Some think it’s all fun and games. It is fun most of the time, but it’s also a lot of work.  Most people haven’t ever considered that jobs like this actually exist.

KD: People always initially think I work on ropes courses that connect to trees.

Name a project you enjoyed working on the most. What did it involve? 

SH: Designing the Sky Rail® system. We came to an agreement about what the users experience should be and how the Sky Rail® should be managed operationally. From there, it was broken down into several key components and things like the trolley and the actual rail were designed first. Then a braking system was designed and after that gates, controls and automation were developed. The R&D department also aided in much of the transition to production and installation. We continue to take the Sky Rail® concept to new levels.

KD: I haven’t had my hands in too many finished products yet, but I really enjoyed being able to work on the Tilt-a-Steps for the IAAPA course as well as help construct and take down that course. It was a great learning experience and awesome to see people having fun on something that I got to have a hand in making.

SB: I’m currently working on updating RCI’s electrical schematics to an industry standard.

SHA:  For now, I’ve been working with the team on the new proposed upgrades to the Sky Rail®. Working to get up to speed with the rest of the team has been my main focus!